Fragrances uplift our mood. Aromas release powerful memories. A bouquet of flowers with its mixed perfumes brings associations of a forest, birds singing and gardens with bees and butterflies. What do we offer to the deity? Gandham which means fragrant substance. There are different kinds of Gandhams.
Different types of fragrance to the deity
Ishta means when a fragrant is pleasing and it summons joyous emotions. Here we have a garland of scents and a perfume pleasing to the God is also called Ishta. Jasmine is loved by the goddess and is described as Ishta Gandham in Devi Puja and sandalwood is called ishta in Dev puja. Any perfume can be offered, which has a redolent smell.
Anishta is the opposite of Ishta. It means displeasing to the deity. An offering which has been offered to one deity, cannot be offered to another deity.
Madhur is means pleasing and sweet. Here we refer to the fragrance of a red rose.
Katu means bitter and the fragrance has a bitter smell. Katu Gandham is offered in some tantric sadhanas.
Nirharin is a pervasive fragrance and camphor is nirharin gandham.
Samhata means a bouquet of fragrances. Such a smell is difficult to describe and is a combination of many flowers. The Brahma Kamal and the Neel Kamal found in the Himalayan heights have the samhata gandham.
Snigdha means tender, soft and agreeable. The narcissus is one such flower and its fragrance is described as snigdha perfume.
Ruksha means rough, dry, arid and dull. Gandham offered with cowdung or guggal (Indian Myrrh) is called ruksha gandham.
Vishad means soft and beautiful. The smell of musk is vishad gandham.
Amla means sour and acidic. Any fragrance made by fermenting fruits is called amla gandham.
Also to purify ourselves
Gandham is offered because we wish to purify ourselves. Gandha represents our attachments (vasanas), likes and dislikes, impressions, gunas, pride and arrogance. By offering the fragrances we are attempting to purify ourselves and asking for protection and compassion. If we do not have any oils or incense, we can even offer cloves or cardomoms.
Aim Hrim Klim